During the 2022 Battle of Mariupol, approximately three thousand Ukrainian defenders, vastly outnumbered by twenty thousand Russian attackers, were quickly surrounded in a steel plant with their backs to the Sea of Azov and little hope of anyone coming to their rescue. They were running out of ammunition, were badly in need of medicine, and had casualties piling up daily in a makeshift field hospital they had set up in one of the many underground bunkers. The chief of Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence, Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov, led the development of a bold plan to resupply and reinforce the desperate defenders.

The plan would require dangerous helicopter missions to the besieged Ukrainian forces. In this episode of the Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by retired Colonel Liam Collins, founding director of the Modern War Institute and a former defense advisor to Ukraine, to discuss those missions. The two have traveled to Ukraine to conduct research and learn from the firsthand experience of Ukrainians in the war. Listen as they explain the lead-up to the battle, the conditions the Ukrainian defenders faced, and the helicopter resupply operations during one of the first major urban battles of the war.

You can hear the full episode below or find it on Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyTuneIn, or your favorite podcast app. Be sure to subscribe, and if you’re enjoying the Urban Warfare Project Podcast, please take a minute and leave the podcast a review or give it a rating!

John and Liam also wrote about the helicopter resupply missions in a recently published article in Time magazine, “The Untold Story of the Ukrainian Helicopter Rescue Missions During the Mariupol Siege.”

Image credit: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine